An astonishing visual record of the exploration of parts of the natural world that had never previously been documented. It features many of the greatest natural history artists of the last 300 years – Merian, Bartram, Ehret, the Bauer brothers, Audubon and Gould. Some were seeking fame as scientists or artists, others sought financial gain or at least the prospect of earning a living in what they loved doing.
For some it also provided them with the opportunity to present their view of nature to a wider community. Whatever the reasons, few would have contradicted Humboldt's comment that he was spurred on by an uncertain longing for what is distant and unknown, for whatever excited my fantasy: danger at sea, the desire for adventures, to be transported from a boring daily life to a marvellous world. Continent by continent Judith Magee draws on the unrivalled collections of the Library of the Natural History Museum to illustrate the development of natural history art through the centuries and its crucial role in furthering appreciation of nature all around the world.
Judith Magee has managed the art collections of the Library of the Natural History Museum in London for more than 10 years. She is the author of Art of Nature and The Art and Science of William Bartram and has contributed to several other books, including The Great Naturalists.